Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America

Professor Emeritus at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California and recognized as the faculty expert on rotary-wing aircraft, Professor Layton advised numerous Army, Marine, and Naval Aviators in their thesis preparation in meeting the requirements for a Master of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

He was born in Ohio in 1922 and attended Wooster (Ohio) College and The Ohio State University prior to entering the U.S. Naval Academy where he graduated with the Class of 1946 (in 1945 due to the demands of WWII). His 23 years' service as a Naval officer included the command of two ships and 20 years as a Naval Aviator qualified in single and multi-engine land and seaplanes as well as having over 400 hours as an airship pilot.

During his military career, he moved with the Naval Postgraduate School (moved November 1951 – February 1952) from Annapolis, MD to Monterey where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree and went on to get a Master of Science Degree in Aeronautics from Princeton University. After his return to NPS in 1965 as a Military Instructor, he obtained a Master of Science Degree on Management from NPS. He obtained a Doctor of Science Degree in Applied Mechanics from Canterbury University of South Africa. He was the first Director of the Navy Safety School in Monterey.

Donald retired from active duty in 1968 and accepted an appointment as an Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School. A helicopter technology course was first taught since 1969 by Professor J.A.J. Bennett, the former head of the Department of Aeronautics of Cranfield Institute of Technology. Following the death of Professor Bennett in 1971, instruction in rotary-wing technology continued under Professor Layton. He was later promoted to full Professor and served 3 years as Acting Head of the Aeronautics Department. During his teaching career, he received the Carl Mennecken Award of the Society of Sigma Xi for his research on Surface Effect Ships and was named Safety Educator of the Year by the System Safety Society.

He retired for the second time in 1988 to teach overseas with the National Test Pilot School in South Africa, Taiwan, and Australia. He also taught for 5 terms in the Graduate School of Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Professor Layton was the author of 9 textbooks and numerous papers on airships, helicopters and system safety, some of which include:
•    Helicopter Performance (Matrix Series in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering)
•    Aircraft Performance (Matrix Series in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)
•    Stability and Control: Aircraft and Missiles (Weber Systems)
•    Systems Safety: Including DOD Standards (Weber Systems)
•    The Longitudinal Stability of the ZP2N-1 Airship

Professor Layton received numerous awards for his teaching and research. On November 22, 2006, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Naval Postgraduate School. The NPS Distinguished Alumni Award Program recognizes an alumnus/alumna of the Naval Postgraduate School who has made a distinguished contribution to a branch of learning associated with national security, has rendered distinguished service to some aspect of national security, or has made a distinguished professional achievement which reflects great credit on the recipient and NPS.

In 2010 he was awarded the Thornton D. Hooper Award for Excellence in Aviation History. He acted as a consultant to the Navy and the Coast Guard on airship matters and lectured throughout the United States and overseas on System Safety.

The Vertical Flight Foundation awards an annual scholarship, Professor Donald M. Layton Scholarship, “honoring the former US Naval Postgraduate School professor and system safety expert.” Professor Emeritus Donald M. (Red) Layton died on February 26, 2017, in Monterey, CA. He was 94.

Written by Paul J. Fardink